Don’t Get Stuck Reading 100% of the Same Genre

Choice for the modern individual has evolved far from what it once was. Consider that major publishers in the U.S. alone publish about 300,000 books each year. Essentially, whatever your favorite genre of choice, you’ll never run out of good books to read.

And I think that’s dangerous. Books help us escape, certainly. But they also help us grow and better understand the word and the people around us.

Read outside your genre. Discover subjects and ways of thinking that you wouldn’t ordinarily consider. Be open.

Are you primarily a reader of science fiction and fantasy (like me)? Read a biography, or a memoir, or a book on wine tasting.

Here’s my suggestion, for every three books you would normally read, make that fourth book one out of your usual wheelhouse.

Spit Mechs 2 – Book Launch Announced

I am excited to announce that Spit Mechs 2 is now available for pre-order on Amazon.com. Release date is July 1, 2017. I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed all the positive feedback I’ve received from kids and adults on Spit Mechs. Keep it coming.

In this humorous, adventurous sequel to Spit Mechs, genius fourth-grader Newton Beam and his friends, Jorge and Jane, don their super suits yet again. This time around, they’ve been challenged to a game of baz ball by the galactic champions and all-around alien meanies. They’re playing for the moon in this hilarious, winner-take-all match-up. The team will have to learn to work together to beat their brawling alien adversaries – or it’s good bye moon!

Be sure to sign up for future emails about book signings, offers and the like.

Pre-order Spit Mechs 2 now (or sooner).

Book Genres

FreeWrite Combines Electronic Advantage With Old World, Distraction-Free Simplicity

I’ve been following this interesting product called the FreeWrite since they put it up on Kickstarter. In a nutshell, the FreeWrite is a distraction-free writing tool. Astrohaus, the company that makes the FreeWrite, ran a sweepstakes over the holidays. And I actually won the sweepstakes. No really. Out of over 12,000 entries, they selected my name. So needless to say, I was excited to try out this innovative piece of hardware.

They managed to ship the machine to me in under a week. I received it just after Christmas. The FreeWrite looks a bit like those old word processors that were on the market just before personal computers became popular. I had a Smith Corona version in college for a few years. But it’s so much more (and less).

This machine uses an eInk screen to show your content. It uses pleasing mechanical-style keys for input and has very little in the way of interface other than the basic keyboard layout. While it does connect to wireless Internet, it’s only purpose for doing so is to upload what you’re writing to a file folder in the cloud (such as DropBox). This tool is only for writing. No editing. You can’t even cursor backward in your text. You just write. You don’t check Facebook, or your stocks, or watch YouTube. You just write.

I’ve already knocked out half a short story on the FreeWrite, and I have to say, I enjoyed the experience. It’s a little strange not being able to go back in your text, so that will take a little getting used to. But I’ve developed a notation, as such when I think of something to add, I just put it in brackets. Later, when editing, I’ll know to grab those added bits and re-insert them elsewhere.

But seriously, I think the power of free-flowing writing with no real distractions, writing that is miraculously saved elsewhere the instant you type it – I don’t think that magic can be underestimated.

Wired calls it “a blank piece of e-paper.” And that’s exactly it. Such an elegant description, so apt, and there is great power in that simple idea.

I’ve read a few reviews of the FreeWrite online that don’t seem to get what it is. Look, if you have no need for a “distraction-free writing tool,” that’s fine. It’s a niche need. But just because I still have both legs doesn’t mean I’m going to start writing scathing reviews of every prosthetic leg product I can find.

In all fairness to struggling writers out there, the current price tag might be considered high. And I was oh-so-fortunate enough to get mine for free (so grateful, this is me being grateful). Clearly, the cost per machine is driven by the FreeWrite’s high-quality materials (aluminum body, eInk screen and Cherry MX keyboard), which I definitely appreciate. But that aside, I wholly recommend the FreeWrite, and I think there’s hope that if the FreeWrite catches on within the writer community – and why wouldn’t it – that price could come down some in the future.

On its website, Astrohaus claims the FreeWrite will double your hourly word count. I can’t help but believe it.

Snowball or the Need to Tell Stories

Consciously, I knew I wanted to be a writer since the 11th grade. I had a wonderful English teacher, Connie Nokes, who made literary elements like symbolism, allegories and foreshadowing come alive for me. I had already written a few (horrible) short stories at that point, and I remember something clicked.  I wanted to be a creative writer when I grew up. I just knew it. A switch had been flipped that would never flip back.

But looking back, maybe it wasn’t a switch at all. Maybe it was more of a snowball that had already been pushed down the hill at a much earlier age. My mother has a big file with all the “books” I wrote as a kid. I would write, and my brother would illustrate. One was a Beetle Bailey comic story of all things.

I have fond memories of both my parents when it comes to storytelling. My mother’s reading voice still evokes strong emotions from me that are connected to her reading books to me as a child. And my father loved to tell stories to us, accented with a host of unique and colorful voices.

I believe that everyone is connected to story in powerful and subconscious ways. But for me, it goes even deeper. I am caught in that giant snowball now, rolling uncontrolled down the hill, arms flailing.

“Spit Mechs” Book Release!

Today, I release Spit Mechs – a science adventure chapter book for kids 3rd to 6th grade.

When fourth-grade friends Newton, Jorge and Jane are the accidental recipients of a trio of alien super suits, it’s up to them to face their fears and save the world. Homework can wait! (Until Tuesday.)

Pick it up on Amazon today.

I hope you love it. (And please leave a review if you!) Spit Mechs 2 is coming this fall.

Out of the Cave – The Writing Community

For many years now, I have been a solitary writer. Recently, a more focused desire to get published has brought me out of my literary cave in search of other creative writer types, not only with which to network but also with which to compare notes, collaborate, get feedback. For a long time, I hadn’t realized I needed this interaction. I was content to hammer out my texts in the bowels and darkness of my cave, torch light flickering and throwing up the shadows of my fancy along the rough-hewn walls.

Last night, I sought out the fellowship of a writer’s group in Plano. They are a relaxed, diverse group of writers all in various places along their writer journeys. One woman read her short, breathy poems a few poignant images, another read fan fiction, and one older man read a powerful modern fable.

As for myself, I read a few poems, some old and some new. Afterward, we stood around, doling out compliments and discussing our writing.  And I came away utterly refreshed and invigorated. It hadn’t mattered that the writing I read went uncritiqued. I had been a part of something connective, something important.

That night, before I went to bed, a story began in my head. But as I lay in bed, seeking the solace of sleep, the story wrote itself in my head, insisting, insisting. For the next five hours, I tossed in my bed, as this story refused to leave me alone. Specific prose played over and over in my thoughts. Finally, in the wee hours of the morning, I got out of bed, realizing if I didn’t write it down, it wouldn’t leave me alone. And so I did.

Being a writer is not always by choice, but it is often an immensely satisfying calling. And sharing that experience with others, when you’ve spent so many years in the cave, is nothing short of revitalizing.